Sanika and Chris, Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort

Christian and Hindu Ceremonies: Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort
Bride and Groom: Maharashtran Hindu – African American Christian
Photography: Randery Imagery

How did you select the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort?
Actually, it was my parents’ suggestion. They had visited the venue before and thought it was gorgeous. My parents, Chris and I drove up there and as soon as I walked in, I thought, “this is it”. So I didn’t really consider other venues.

What did you like about the Embassy Suites?

  • Apart from being a beautiful property I liked that it’s off the beaten path of wedding venues.
  • Also, our wedding weekend had a semi-destination feel as the property is on a beach. We actually did the Christian ceremony on the beach.  Yet our guests, mostly coming from the OC and LA, could still drive there. We had about 330 at the Hindu ceremony and reception. 
  • The staff was accommodating and responsive to our questions and needs which were many, as we had several events there: the mehndi + lunch, Christian ceremony + lunch, Hindu ceremony, cocktail hour, and the reception.  Whenever we had questions or requests they were easy to get a hold of and responsive. The night before the wedding, we wanted to do  more of a party instead of a sangeet or garba and their staff recommended places offsite – which we appreciated.
  • My bridal suite overlooked the Presidential Lawn, which is where our ceremony was. It was fun to be able to watch the tail end of the baraat and guests arriving. The suite is in a great location for anyone getting married there.
  • We hired a mobile DJ for the baraat, and they allowed us to start at the front of  the hotel, all the way around to the back, which is where the Presidential Lawn is, overlooking the ocean.
  • All of the other vendors like DJs, decorators, etc. were accommodating and willing to come to  Oxnard – I didn’t have any issues.

 In what order did you do the two ceremonies and why?
We did the Christian ceremony first, followed by the Hindu ceremony. Primarily because we wanted the Christian ceremony to be smaller; and since our guests were coming from 1-2 hours away, it made sense to do that one first. Also, getting ready for the Christian ceremony was quicker than the Hindu ceremony, so I was able to get a bit more sleep the night before.

How did the timings work out? Were you rushed?
The Christian ceremony started at about 10am and finished by 10:40am. The baraat started at 2pm and after that was the ceremony, straight into cocktails.

We were not rushed at all. We had plenty of time before and after both ceremonies to take photos, eat (yes we did eat!) and get ready. I was pretty adamant about sticking to our time schedule as it was the only way to ensure we could do everything we had planned. Our vendors were great and kept everything moving on schedule.

Any advice on maintaining the schedule on the wedding day?
think you or someone else in charge has to be adamant that things are going to stay on schedule, no matter what. In order to do that, be thorough about thinking through rituals etc. anything that could impact your timing. There are going to be surprises no matter what, so the best you can do is plan for everything else.  For the reception guest seating, we made two boards. One was supposed to be displayed during the cocktail hour so guests could get their table number at that time. The other board was in the long hallway outside the ballroom so anyone who hadn’t looked it up during cocktails could do so. Somehow, both boards ended up in the hallway – which created a bottleneck that cost us 30 minutes. Earlier in the day, if things hadn’t been on time, we would’ve been forced to make time cuts during the reception but we had enough buffer that we were ok. Actually, we ended up getting more photos because we were waiting for everyone to take their seats.

I hired a day-of wedding coordinator and my primary selection criteria was hiring someone that would be as strict about sticking to the timeline as I wanted her to be. 

Our vendors  – the photographer, decorator, coordinator, DJ – really made our wedding day how great it was. I met with each vendor and shared my vision – they took it from there and all did a great job.

How did you set up accommodations for your guests?
Most of our local friends didn’t stay – they left after the reception. The Embassy Suites has a curfew of 11pm, so it wasn’t too late for people to get on the road.

Our relatives and out-of-town guests stayed at the Embassy Suites or neighboring hotels. The Embassy Suites is a popular vacation destination so they were actually sold out that weekend. Even though they were so busy, it wasn’t disruptive to any of our events. Hotel guests definitely watched from their balconies and from the beach but no one was disrespectful or tried to crash the party or eat the food. I was honored that they were interested.

What advice would you give to someone planning their wedding?
Enjoy it. Try not to get overwhelmed. Give yourself plenty of time (if possible). Doing your homework helps. Being as clear and detailed as possible about your vision and sharing that with your vendors will help them.

Learn more about the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort. 

Vendors:

Caterer: Diamond Palace
Day-of Coordinator: Beauty and the Ring
Decor: Dipti’s Floral
DJ: Dhamaka Entertainment
V
ideographer: Avec Lumiere

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